Keystone cops vs the grizzly bears

Stamford town centre ANL-140503-133859001
Stamford town centre ANL-140503-133859001
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ON THE BEAT with Inspector Jim Tyner

My police radio crackled suddenly into life: ‘Ten, nine! Ten nine!’ These four words turned my blood to ice. In days gone by, this was the police radio code that meant an officer was under attack and needed urgent assistance.

It was 10pm on a Saturday night and I had just come on duty. I was a newly-promoted sergeant and this was definitely not the gentle start I was hoping for. I had had two daytime ‘admin days’ and this was my first proper shift as the new sergeant.

I ran to the scene. As I turned the corner there was a large crowd of about 100 people in the street in various stages of inebriation. They were all there: the happy huggers; the wall-wobblers; the gigglers, but I wasn’t paying attention to them as I was anxious to find the officer who had requested help.

I had to push through the crowd towards the nightclub entrance. As I got closer I could see one of my officers, PC Adams, restraining a man on the ground. I noticed that the crowd was getting a bit tense but I still didn’t know what had happened. I could hear faint sirens in the distance and knew that more help was on the way.

Before I could get to PC Adams a member of the crowd told me that there was another officer injured nearby. Who should I help? A few minutes earlier I had been all bright-eyed expectancy, arriving at work as the new sarge. Now I was in an agony of indecision. I shouted to PC Adams and he confirmed that he would be alright for a few minutes. I went to look for the second officer and very quickly found PC Rogers kneeling on the floor nearby. He was able to tell me that he had been kicked in the mouth: he had broken teeth and a suspected broken jaw.

I was just about to apply First Aid, when a witness pointed out the man who had attacked PC Rogers. He was just starting to walk away. It was my second moment of indecision in as many minutes. I was still waiting for reinforcements to arrive: should I help PC Rogers or go after his attacker.

I had been a constable longer than I had been a sergeant, so the impulse to make an arrest was strong. Having made my decision, I decided that sneakiness was the best bet: I rushed up behind the man and slipped on the handcuffs before he had a chance to realise that he was bigger than me and stronger than me. As I did this, other officers started to arrive with a police van. I was joined by a cop I hadn’t met before and we started to walk my prisoner to the back of the police van.

We got to the back of the police van with my prisoner when I was suddenly grabbed in a bear hug by a huge grizzly-bear sized man in the crowd and dragged to the ground. Now, rule number one of police safety training is to avoid being on the ground.

Rule number two is that if you do break rule number one; make sure no one ends up on top of you. I broke two rules in two seconds. There should be a third rule for other cops: if your sergeant is on the ground with an assailant on top of them, DO NOT jump on top of both... unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened as three burly cops jumped on top of the two of us.

I was suddenly the bottom slice of bread in a grizzly-bear sandwich. The air expelled from me like the pressing of a pair of bellows and I felt the unmistakable pop as my ribs gave way.

This was definitely not the most shining example of leadership that I had hoped for. As the mix of Keystone Cops and grizzly bear untangled above me I realized that I had no idea how PC Adams or PC Rogers were. This was absolute chaos. I couldn’t keep up with everything that was happening but I could see that the man that had pulled me to the ground was now under arrest as were two others.

It was at this point that I realised that I’d lost a contact lens in the kerfuffle. Despite the pain from my ribs, I giggled to myself at the thought of shouting for everyone to stand perfectly still while I searched for my lens.

The problem is, I was meant to be the sergeant, directing and controlling the others, but actually I was at the point where I wanted to simply put on my civvie jacket and mingle with the crowd!

Instead, I went back and checked on PC Adams. We took his prisoner to a police van and it was obvious that PC Adams had also been hurt and had sustained broken ribs when he had been attacked prior to my arrival.

I next checked on PC Rogers, who was being tended to by a paramedic. In typical cop understatement he said: ‘Well, that was a waste of expensive dental work. My orthodontist is going to be upset’.I checked my watch. It was 10.15pm... 15minutes in to my shift and three of us had nasty injuries and we had five prisoners to take to the police station. I took a deep, painful, breath, sorted my thoughts and finally started to take control my officers.

As the scene returned to normality, I remember thinking to myself about the sign I had seen on the way to work: ‘Welcome to Stamford’.

And that’s why I’m sharing this story with you. It isn’t my proudest moment, but it shows that drunken behaviour and assaults don’t just happen in Spalding.

It also illustrates the dangers that my officers face, but this is nothing new... this story is from October 2000.

PS: The five men went to court and were convicted of violent disorder. The cops all made a full recovery.